ARIZONA FAMILY LEGAL SERVICES
Who Gets Child Custody After a Divorce in Arizona?
People enter into marriages with the desire that they will last forever. However, this is not always the case. The reality is that many marriages in the U.S. are breaking down for various reasons. After a divorce, the next issue is usually determining who the law will give custody of the marriage’s children.
It is the courts in Arizona that determine who gets custody of the kids of a marriage. In arriving at this decision, the courts consider many factors, chiefly, what will be in the children’s best interests. It is worthy to note that Arizona’s law has changed the term “custody” to “legal decision-making.”
The Presumption of Custody
In Arizona, there is no legal presumption of custody in favor of one parent. This means that the court does not grant special rights regarding the child to one parent over the other. Both parents have equal rights to the custody of the child. The courts decide who gets custody in line with who and what will be best for the child.
There was a time when the law preferred mothers over fathers in custody claims. However, the tide has changed, and fewer fathers are facing discrimination in child custody lawsuits.
Sole Custody or Joint Custody
In granting custody, the court presumes that the parents should have joint custody. This presumption of joint custody is the effect of the absence of presumed custody in favor of a particular parent in Arizona. The courts believe that shared custody is in the child’s best interests.
In joint custody, both parents will share the responsibility of decision-making and child care. They will also share the rights of physical possession and control of the child. With joint custody, the courts intend to make the changes to the child’s living arrangements as few as possible. The intention is to protect the child from the harmful effects of any such drastic changes.
If the circumstances so dictate, the court may also grant an application for sole custody. The court will usually give sole custody to a parent where it believes that a particular parent is best suited to care for the child. Furthermore, where a parent’s conduct and character are reprehensible, the court may grant sole custody to the other parent.
Factors to Be Considered by the Court in Granting Custody
In determining who gets legal decision-making for the child, the court will consider some factors. These factors help the court to make the best decision for the child. The elements as set out in Arizona Revised Statute 25-403 include:
- The child’s relationship with the parents and siblings
- The child’s adjustment to each parent’s home, school, and community
- The wishes of the child, if the child is of suitable age and maturity
- The mental and physical health of all the individuals involved
- Which parent is more likely to allow the child to have contact with the other parent. The court will overlook this factor if it determines that a parent is only acting in good faith to protect the child from abuse.
- The presence of child abuse or physical violence